There are three things that New Orleanians do best: eat, drink and talk. In a city famous for these qualities, several restaurants stand out far above the rest in their devotion to fostering this lifestyle of luxury. What makes a restaurant “fine”? In New Orleans, it’s attention to detail, thoughtful service, and an all-encompassing feeling that someone is really taking care of you. In New Orleans, people get married at nice restaurants. They have birthdays, anniversaries, and first dates at fine-dining restaurants. They create traditions at these places. Many NOLA fine-dining professionals are second- or even third-generation waiters. Fine dining here might not be like eating at NOMA in Copenhagen or the French Laundry in Napa Valley, but it certainly leaves you with a plush experience that keeps you coming back again and again. From the Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel to Bayona in the French Quarter, here are the best fine dining restaurants in New Orleans.
Service is this restaurant’s forte. The attention to nuance and detail is unmatched in the NOLA fine dining circuit. The degustation menu is fantastic, especially when paired with the recommended wines. I particularly love the farmer’s market vegetable tasting menu which helps you leave the restaurant satisfied, but still feeling light enough to continue the evening.
The Grill Room
Situated in the Windsor Court Hotel, the Grill Room is the ultimate in timeless luxury. Sommelier John Mitchell is renowned for his creative wine pairings that are sometimes touted as life-changing. If you come for dinner on the weekends you might even have the good fortune to be serenaded by the lovely Robin Barnes, who was recently dubbed “The New Orleans Songbird” by the city's main newspaper.
Founded in 1918 by French wine salesman Arnaud Cazenave, Arnaud’s is the grande dame of New Orleans fine dining. It sprawls over almost an entire city block, and can seat a staggering 970 people at one time. Don’t miss the pillowy pockets of ecstasy—the Soufflé Potatoes that are served with a sultry béarnaise sauce.
Run by legendary chef Susan Spicer, this French Quarter restaurant is a staple. The menu has a slow-food take on world-inspired cuisine: Try the veal sweetbreads and the garlic soup for an authentic and rich experience. And when rain isn’t in the forecast, make sure to sit in their beautiful courtyard.
Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto got carte blanche when they built the kitchen for Restaurant R’evolution. It is a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that they are happy to show off with their reinterpretations of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Make sure to get the “Death by Gumbo” and the steak tartare.